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Japan unveils new warning system to predict tsunamis

Last Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 18:32

London: Two years after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed thousands, the country has unveiled an improved warning system that could have saved hundreds of lives.

As the nation prepares memorials on the second anniversary of the disaster for the 19,000 lost lives, Japan`s Meteorological Agency, which in the aftermath of the disaster was widely criticised for issuing a warning of a modest 10ft high tsunami - despite it reaching up to 131ft in places, has unveiled its new Tsunami Warning System, designed to ensure that such an underestimation would not happen again, reports the Telegraph.

March 11, 2011 proved that even Japan did not have the means to deal with a 9.0 earthquake being the largest ever recorded in Japan.

The heartbeat of the nation`s disaster response system is located in an anonymous grey office building in the Otemachi area of Tokyo.

Explaining the new system, Takeshi Koizumi, a senior coordinator for international earthquake and tsunami information, described the technology aimed at increasing the speed and precision with which a tsunami can be predicted following a mega-quake.

Circular devices known as Broadband Strong Motion Meters, which are being installed at 80 sites across Japan, measure a wide range of seismic waves triggered by an earthquake and unlike existing meters already in place in Japan, they have been designed with low sensitivity levels to avoid the problem of becoming saturated when an epic mega-earthquake strikes.

The new system also includes an ongoing expansion of its existing network of seismic stations which are dotted around Japan`s landscape, with a total of 261 already confirmed as in place compared to 221 at the time of the disaster two years ago.

A new long-life battery system has also been installed at seismic stations across the country, to avoid the problem of stations cutting out due to electricity blackouts caused by earthquakes - as was the case on March 11.

However, the new system is not without its challenges. In the case of mega-quakes, an accurate tsunami prediction may still take longer than three minutes, depending on a range of technical factors such as the length of the fault line or location.


First Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 18:27

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